New Zealand ambassador to tour milk plant Tuesday

Staff reports

New Zealand Ambassador to the United States John Wood will tour the Dairiconcepts milk plant in Portales’ industrial park Tuesday, according to a press release from the City of Portales.

The plant, which employs over 100 people, is a partnership between New Zealand’s Fonterra and Dairy Farmers of America, both dairy cooperatives in their respective countries. The New Zealand connection is the link that is bringing the ambassador to Portales.

According to Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega, the ambassador’s trip will encompass other cities with connections to the dairy industry as well as Portales. Wood is expected to arrive Monday and tour the plant Tuesday morning.

The company produces milk protein concentrate (MPC) at the Portales plant. Dairy Farmers of America was the first commercial producer of MPC in the United States, according to the news release.

“It gives our community an opportunity to express our gratitude for their interest in our community and Dairiconcepts,” said Ortega. “If you look at Fonterra they’re a growing industry, a very solid industry and we’re happy to have the association.”

The United States is Fonterra’s single largest export market, worth $500 million annually. Fonterra has 25 manufacturing plants in New Zealand and 35 in other countries, according to the press release.

Ortega plans to join the ambassador on the tour and discuss the economic value of the New Zealand partnership with Portales. Ortega made Wood’s acquaintance recently in Washington.

“Once he arrives we’ll be able to sit down and talk about economic development opportunities,” said Ortega. “This allows us to strengthen our relationship.”